Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property
Whether forming a company or doing business in Brazil, it is critical to understand how to protect your organization’s valuable intellectual property. All matters relating to intellectual property and its registration are managed by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and governed by Law 9.279/96 (Law of Industrial Property).
Brazil is also a signatory to the Borne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Let’s examine some of the key areas of intellectual property:
- Trademarks: A trademark, or marca, is a property right over any recognizable symbol that identifies a certain product or service. In Brazil, the owner of a foreign trademark is given six months from the time of the initial trademark registration abroad in order to file for registration in Brazil. If this deadline passes, the first person to file the trademark application will be given registration priority. Currently, trademark registration takes approximately three years. If the trademark has been successfully granted, royalties can be collected and the trademark will allow protection in all of Brazil for a period of ten years, renewable for ten year periods thereafter.
- Patents: A patent, or patente, is a property right over an invention or useful process. Currently, patent registration takes approximately six years. Brazil is a member of the PCT, which means that parties can choose to file their patent applications either under this treaty or with the INPI. National protection of the patent is provided for periods of 20 years for inventions, 15 years for modelos de utilidade and ten years for industrial designs. In the case of industrial designs, the patent is renewable every five years for a total of 25 years.
- Copyrights: A copyright, or direitos autorais, is a property right over an original work of authorship. Law 9.610/98 (Copyright Law) governs copyrights in Brazil. Copyrights are extended automatically and do not require any registration in order to receive legal protection. Current protection under the Copyright Law is extended to authors of scientific, artistic and literary works. Coverage also extends to work of musical and dramatic natures, as well as performance and broadcasting rights. For software, protection is afforded under Law 9.609/98 (Software Law), together with the INPI.
These three basic intellectual property rights will provide needed protection to businesses and professionals seeking to operate in Brazil.